Why Python Replaced Scheme in MIT’s Undergraduate CS Course

If you who have spent anytime at all on Irreal, you know that I’m a huge fan of SICP (Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs) the seminal work by Gerry Sussman and Hal Abelson that was used for years in MIT’s EECS 6.01. MIT’s decision to replace SICP and Scheme with Python was met with cries of outrage from many in the CS community.

Chas Emerick attended an impromptu talk at the International Lisp Conference at MIT by Gerry Sussman on why MIT replaced Scheme with Python and reports on Sussman’s remarks. As I’ve said before, I find myself less than persuaded but it’s nice to get Sussman’s take on the matter; he surely knows more about it than me or most others commenting on it. If, like me, you believe SICP to be one of the best CS book every written and that learning its lessons—and Scheme, for that matter—is required for anyone who wants to be a competent programmer, you will find Sussman’s remarks interesting.

This entry was posted in General and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why Python Replaced Scheme in MIT’s Undergraduate CS Course

  1. Sid H says:

    I think the python vs. scheme at MIT debate has raged on for some time and yet there isn’t a clear answer. When I first started playing with scheme a couple of years back, it just blew my mind. However, as a software developer (not a student of computer science ) I still find it hard to use scheme in my work. So, maybe Python is the pragmatic choice for MIT. In any case, I hope scheme (and common lisp) picks up more steam.

  2. Xah Lee says:

    i think that’s a fundamentally bad decision, whoever made it. Python, as recently i got serious for real, the more i know, the more i dislike it to the extreme, perhaps even worse than perl if not for perl community’s nature.

    much of python, and python community, has a lot to do with Guido. Python is rather rigid, with Guido’s own opinion of things, and OOP, and it’s syntax is a ah hoc syntax soup. Guido hates functional programing. So, Python, in every way, is against FP. (famously known for it’s crippled lambda, and lambda is the most important thing in FP. Python has list comprehension, iterator, generator, views… some of these are FP features, but i rather think them as FP’s worst parts grabbed into python, mixed as OOP.)

    (some random text here because it think i posted previously but didn’t actually go thru)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>